Enhance success by controlling your inner chimp

enhance success

How to enhance success – The groundbreaking mind model to help you achieve your goals

Do you ever get email remorse? When you reacted to something someone said to you, wrote a reply in anger or irritation, and pressed send, only to have the sharpest feeling of ‘OMG – I can’t believe I actually sent that’ envelop your whole being?

Have you been in a work situation where someone claimed your work as their own, or made you feel inadequate? Did you want to come right back at them? Did you feel an inner, burning desire to thump them? Did you react?

If you have ever had a challenge with your internal voice, telling you something won’t work, questioning why you are doing a task, or telling you not to do an activity because it’s dangerous, then let me introduce you to your inner chimp.

I was lucky enough to spend time at a conference recently where Dr Steve Peters was the final keynote speaker of the day. I was very excited because I read his book ‘The Chimp Paradox‘ earlier in the year. In person, he delivered a 40 minute, highly entertaining, funny and very thought provoking speech, outlining his model of how the brain works, and how we each need to recognise, nurture and control our inner chimp.

Dr Steve Peters is a consultant psychiatrist who has been credited by many of this country’s greatest sports stars as being the secret ingredient to their success. Victoria Pendleton, British Olympic Cycling Gold medalist, has said “Steve Peters is the most important person in my career”. Sir Chris Hoy has said “The mind programme that helped me win my Olympic Golds”.

The ‘Chimp Paradox’ is a groundbreaking mind model, which is set out in a very easy to understand format. It is broken down into 3 key areas:

  1. Your Inner Mind Explored
  2. Day-to-day Functioning
  3. Your Health, Success, and Happiness

Your Inner Mind Explored

In the first section, Dr Peters simplifies the anatomy of the brain for us all. What is a phenomenally complicated organ surrounded in mystery for the majority of people, is explained as being a set of seven independent brains that grow and fuse together to create what we all think of as THE brain. The biggest challenge is that these separate brains think independently and don’t always agree. He simplifies further by introducing us to the three most important parts of the psychological brain:

  1. The Frontal (Human)
  2. The Limbic (Chimp)
  3. Parietal (Computer)


Basically, the Chimp is the oldest part of your brain and is conditioned to think about survival. The human brain is a rational and logical, thinking brain. The Computer is where data is stored – data that can be input by either the Chimp or the Human.

When we lived in the jungle, the Chimp was very useful, as it kept us safe. Now that we are no longer in the jungle (at least not in a jungle with trees and wild animals) it is less useful, and can be quite destructive if not managed correctly.

The Chimp assumes it is being attacked or under threat, and responds appropriately (for a Chimp). The Human thinks things through and applies logic, and has the ability to see things from a number of different perspectives. The Human can think about consequences, whereas the Chimp will likely act first and deal with consequences later.

Because the Chimp is very strong, and is the oldest brain, it can over power the Human, and cause it to act against its better judgement – hence the email remorse, and other regrets we have all experienced after an argument or other stressful situation in which we have spoken or acted before thinking.

As we grow up, we are storing memories and behaviours in our Computer, and because the Chimp brain is so powerful, it can easily put gremlins in our Computer which don’t serve us very well, can be very illogical, and can be debilitating. Of course, there are examples we can all think of when the reactions of a Chimp are right for us, and storing these in the Computer is a good thing. For example, if someone pulled a knife on you, you’ll be thankful that your Chimps survival instinct kicks in and causes you to run away, and puts into the Computer a pattern that tries to ensure you avoid that type of situation again.

On the whole though, the Chimp is responsible for inputting many gremlins into your Computer that are very hard to change. But, with an understanding of how your mind functions, and with Dr Peters’ mind management programme, you can start to change the way you think and react.

Steve Peters does something clever in the model – he states that the Human brain is YOU, but that the Chimp brain is just a Chimp. By dissociating yourself from your Chimp, it makes it far easier to look at your reactions, and behaviours objectively. De-personalising traits and characteristics that you would rather not have enables you to identify with your logical, thinking self, and see the Chimp as a badly behaved teenager.

This does not absolve anyone from the responsibility or consequences of their Chimp’s actions, just as the owner of a dog which bites a child is responsible for the dog’s behaviour. However, the dog owner is not the dog, and can look at the dog’s behaviour objectively. So it is with identifying your Chimp as being separate to YOU.

The following sections of the book (Day-to-day Functioning, Your Health, Success and Happiness) provide a great insight into how to manage your Chimp, deal with gremlins and achieve greater success through understanding, acknowledgement, responsibility, management and control.

I give ‘The Chimp Paradox’ 10/10 and thoroughly recommend it to everyone who wants to accelerate their personal and business performance.

Check out this interview for more information from Macs Magazine:

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Consulting Fee Calculator: How to be confident with your charges

Consulting Fee Calculator

Emily felt embarrassed pitching her new client for work. ‘If only I had confidence about what to charge’, she thought. ‘I need a ‘Consulting Fee Calculator’ to help me feel less awkward’.

When I started out as a freelance consultant, I had to get over a few internal gremlins. Firstly, there was no security. Effectively I had become a 100% commission only sales person. This was a significant shift in thinking, and I had to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ if I was to build up a sustainable practice. The next hurdle was getting to grips with everything it takes to run a small business; from VAT, to corporation tax, to working out how much to take as salary versus dividends. This required a bit of upfront time investment, but wasn’t actually too bad. Gremlin number three was centred around whether to have a value proposition or not. Some people advise that the best approach is to simply talk to everyone and then see what needs doing and do it, whilst others advocate having a niche, or even a micro-niche, and promoting your services within it. That took me a little while longer to resolve, but eventually I found the balance that works for me.

The last gremlin was about how much to charge customers. Even if you charge for a project, you will build your costs up based on an assumption of the time it will take to complete the task, so everything boils down to ‘what should I charge per day’ in the end.

I have since discovered that I am not alone. Many successful consultants struggled with this at the beginning, and those newbies I talk to on a regular basis find this one of the most difficult things of all. Somehow, a feeling creeps in that what you can do for them is not that hard for you, so you feel a slight embarrassment in asking for what seems like a lot of money. When you are starting out, you are just grateful that anyone should want your services too, so you feel that a lower price is a good thing. After all, you don’t want to appear to be money grabbing, taking the piss, or the worst possible scenario, be priced too high so that they don’t go ahead with you. The thing is though, when you are new at it, you don’t really know what is too high. And it’s probably only you that thinks you will appear money grabbing.

The best way to get over these fears, so that you have confidence in pricing for a project, is to think logically about it. I am very surprised at how few new consultants put together a spreadsheet with all their costs, the number of days billing they are likely to have per year, and the amount they are used to earning. Being a self employed consultant is just the same as running a business – you need a plan. A plan for your business, including business development/marketing, targets per month, and above all, a cost model.

I constructed the calculator below so that anyone struggling with this topic can model a number of variables, and project what their minimum day rate needs to be. Explanations for the cells are below the calculator.

I hope this is useful and helpful.



  • Input cells are green. Change them and the totals will automatically recalculate.
  • The green cells are pre-populated with numbers so that there is something to start with. It should not be inferred that these numbers are correct. Add in the numbers you will realistically need in your business.
  • Before you became a consultant/freelancer you would have earned a salary (plus bonus maybe) from your employer. What was it gross? Or what would you like it to have been?
  • For your country, add in the number of days that are public holidays when no-one is working. In the UK it is 8, but in other countries this will be different.
  • How many days will you take as vacation during the year? 25 days (or 5 weeks) has been added as this is standard in the UK. You may want to take more, or fewer. Change it to reflect what you’d like it to be.
  • The number of potential working days a year is calculated for you
  • The day rate equivalent for every possible working day is calculated for you
  • How many days per month do you think you will reasonably bill?
  • Being a freelancer/consultant means you need to constantly generate new leads for new projects. How many days per month will you devote to business development?
  • You are running a business, so will need a few days a month on admin, proposal writing, chasing invoices, writing blog posts, marketing, etc. How many days a month will you devote to this?
  • This will calculate the number of days per month and year you will be working. Business development days and practice management are both working days on which you should be paying yourself.
  • Make sure that the two orange cells have the same number in them. If not, adjust your billable, business development and practice management days so they match the total available working days total above.
  • Now add in the estimated costs of managing your business
  • When you were working for an employer, it is likely they were contributing to your pension, and providing you with medical insurances. You deserve to be contributing in the same way to these. Change the pension percent to whatever you want it to be and the total contribution will automatically update.
  • Practice management and business development totals are calculated automatically based on the number of days you specified above, multiplied by the day rate equivalent above.
  • If you were running any other type of business, you would think in terms of the business making a profit after it has paid all of its costs. There is no reason why you should not do this as a freelancer/consultant. After all, by nature, this type of work can be very lumpy, and retaining funds within the business is sensible to smooth out the peaks and troughs of cash flow.
  • If you work directly with customers then the Day Rate is calculated for you
  • If you work through an agency, or umbrella company and they take a percentage of your billings, then add the percentage of the total that they take
  • The final number is the day rate you need to charge a customer through the agency
  • This calculator is for example only, to help in your planning, and does not constitute any form of advice, nor does it negate your need to seek any specific advice from your accountant

Sales coaching – accelerate sales achievement

accelerate sales achievement

If you want to accelerate sales achievement for your team, then you need to do more than inspect their pipeline, read them the riot act when the numbers are poor, or send them on a training course. What they really need is personalised focus.

If people are really the most important resource in any company, why are they often treated as robots who need to deliver on their objectives, without adequate help or development? Professional (and for that matter personal) development is critical to the success of any team, function or company.

Take Philip, the marketing manager for a large technology company, who has been tasked with achieving a 40% increase in MQL this year with the same budget, and a more complex set of services. One option is to let him figure it out, after all he was hired because he has experience and knows what to do. Then watch him fail, or worse still fail while creating unnecessary stress and knocking his confidence. A second option is to provide him with coaching and training so that he is supported in this Hurculean effort.

Training enables Philip to gain new skills or ways of doing things that could help him reach his goals. A more efficient way of using the MAP so he can reduce time spent on inputting data. Or training to provide greater insight into the CIO challenges and pain points, which enable him to develop better and more relevant messaging for his campaigns. There is also training in new digital marketing practices, more effective lead generation, and managing the gap between sales and marketing.

Then there is the more personal approach of professional and ongoing coaching. A one-to-one session every few weeks with a coach will enable Philip to bounce ideas around, discuss different ways of doing things, even just get stuff of his chest. Coaching is usually centred around a particular task or set of objectives and is therefore very focused. It involves Philip’s manager too, so that everything is aligned. It is possibly the most useful investment a manager, or the HR department can make in their people, with results being visible very quickly.

Imagine Philip has had some relevant training, and has been supported with professional coaching. Imaging that with this scenario he makes his incremental 40%, and this gives him immense satisfaction, his confidence is high. The company has spent a bit in his development, but has benefited from the return they wanted, and a confident, happy, and engaged employee. Now imagine Philip had been left to swim on his own. He achieved an incremental 20%, he is stressed, burned out even, he feels unsupported, and is on the verge of quitting. The company has saved on professional development but at what cost?

I provide coaching and training to sales and marketing people in order that they can accelerate sales achievement and performance, and be fully supported and engaged for years to come.

5 Tips to Accelerate Team Performance

Doesn’t it make you sick when you hear your management say “our people are our most important asset” one minute, only to lay off hundreds of people the next? It is a cliche to say that the people make a difference in an organisation but the truth is without people nothing works. Nothing gets made. Nothing gets sold. Innovation can’t happen. So it is not too far a stretch to say that your people are the heartbeat of every company, from a large multinational corporation to a one person web start-up. Without the people turning the handles then corporate machines would stop. And along with people come teams and with that, team performance.

So it seems strange that not more attention is placed by companies on their employees, and specifically on their engagement, mental welfare and interpersonal skills and on team performance.

To accelerate business you, as a manager, would do well to turbo boost your people; find some way to switch them on and plug them in. Here are some ideas:

1. Build great rapport with each team member. Get to a point where you can start to truly lead them because you have been excellent at connecting. Building rapport isn’t about just mirroring them, listening and empathising, although all those are critical, it is about making them feel like they want to work with you and do the best for the company and the rest of the team. A successful rapport builder will be able to lead a team more effectively than one who hasn’t got them ‘on side’.

2. Become an expert on how you team works. Not just the output they produce or whether they prefer to start late or take multiple coffee breaks, but how they think and how their world is mapped. The Polish-American philosopher, Alfred Korzybski, famously coined the phrase “the map is not the territory” meaning that every one of us has our own map of the world that is different, and is not the same as the actual territory it covers. Do you know what map each one of your team has, by which they navigate every day at work? If not then perhaps you could do more to find out.

team performance

3. Focus on goals with well formed outcomes. Too many companies push impossible goals down onto middle managers who then dish them out to their teams without much thought about how they will be implemented. Be a better manager than that and instead of stopping at SMART objectives, opt instead for PACER objectives. That is to say ones where the outcomes are stated in the Positive, the Achievement is defined, the Context is agreed, the Ecology is taken into consideration and the Resources are identified. And above all make sure the goal is in the control of the person who has to achieve it. There is no point giving someone a goal that they do not have control over.

4. Enable your team to want to achieve the best. A goal or a task can either be something they feel they need to do (which implies they don’t want to do it but are being forced to) or they want to do. As a manager it is your job to get them to want to do it by helping them both see the bigger picture and also anchoring the outcome to one of their core drivers. This powerful technique can make a huge difference to the performance of both individuals and teams.

5. Be the best communicator and remember the statement that “the meaning of your communication is the response it gets” is very true. What that means is that whatever you think you communicated is irrelevant if the person you communicated it to understood something completely different. Remember that everyone applies filters to all inputs based on the map of the world they have in their head. So if they understood something different to what you intended, then it is your responsibility to communicate it in a way that they will understand, hence looping back to item number two on this list.